Page last updated at 01:43 GMT, Saturday, 29 August 2009 02:43 UK

Suu Kyi visitor tells of 'sorrow'


Yettaw told BBC Newshour he dreamt Suu Kyi would be assassinated

The man who swam to the lakeside home of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has spoken of his sorrow that his action led to her arrest and trial.

John Yettaw told the BBC that he had a dream that Ms Suu Kyi was going to be murdered, and swam to her home wearing home-made flippers to warn her.

Mr Yettaw was sentenced to seven years in prison but is now back home after US Senator Jim Webb intervened.

Ms Suu Kyi was sentenced to 18 months' further house arrest.

Mr Yettaw, a devout Mormon from Falcon, Missouri, told the BBC's Newshour programme that he had had many strong visions or dreams which he called "impressions" or "camcorder moments".

In one he says he foresaw an official plot to murder Ms Suu Kyi and this prompted him to swim twice to her home to warn her of the danger.

On the first occasion he says he left some Mormon scriptures for her but did not enter her home.

As he left he was challenged by an armed guard. He says he shook hands with the guard who then walked away and he took a taxi away from the scene.

Another dream

But he again swam to her house in May after another dream.

"I had been researching Myanmar (Burma) and researching about the internally displaced families and about the numbers of people who had been murdered and then about the numbers of people through the Cyclone (Nargis) and then about Aung San Suu Kyi's release date and I went to sleep that night and I had a dream that when she was released she was going to be murdered and I saw a plot," he said.

He said that he believed the inevitable publicity surrounding his trips would make it impossible for the Burmese military authorities to carry out their alleged plan to assassinate her.

John Yettaw in Chicago airport, 19 August 2009
Mr Yettaw was recovering from health problems when he returned to the US

"When I was in the water the first time... I had seen myself returning to the house and being in her house two days. When I had the dream of the assassination I thought: OK, I'll go back and I will share with her this message.

"I shared with many people that I had this overwhelming feeling that I was going to be imprisoned and become a political prisoner. The theme was that the eyes of the world would be on Aung San Suu Kyi and that this would spare her life, that the junta (Burma's military government) would not dare try to assassinate her."

Mr Yettaw, 53, said that when he arrived at Ms Suu Kyi's home for the second time she was "shocked" to see him.

"When I got in to talk to Aung San Suu Kyi I said there's a plot to assassinate you," he said. "She said: 'If I die I die.' I said no way, Burma needs you."

Both Mr Yettaw and Ms Suu Kyi were arrested and the pro-democracy leader was charged with breaking the terms of her house arrest by sheltering Mr Yettaw.

Mr Yettaw, who suffered ill health during his detention, spoke of his sorrow that his actions had led to Ms Su Kyi's arrest.

"I was sorrowful that she was arrested," he said. "I had impressions that I would be on trial and that Aung San Suu Kyi would either testify for or against me but not that she would be placed on trial because I think that if I had seen that I wouldn't have done it."

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